People are not paying to suffer,” says Gianvito Rossi. We are in the quiet town of San Mauro Pascoli where the shoe designer’s factory is based. “If it’s uncomfortable, it’s not luxury at all,” Rossi continues, as he shows us around the premises, where the magic hands of his artisans bring soles to life.
Gianvito Rossi might have a head start in footwear, being the son of famous shoe designer, Sergio Rossi. In 2007, however, he struck on his own and rapidly made a name for himself, with shoes that fuse comfort with high style. His heels have since appeared on celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Lily Rose Depp, Rihanna, Karlie Kloss, Bella Hadid, as well as royalty like the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
As we move around the factory, what strikes us are the rolls and rolls of highest quality leather and fabrics sitting in the material room, waiting for their turn to transform into a timeless piece. Rossi himself explains the journey each pair of heels goes through, from the initial design to the research and development of the last, which determines the final shape and size of each product, before the hand assembling of materials. The whole process requires at least 60 steps to complete. The feel of concentration, focus and minute attention to detail within his factory is palpable. Rossi chats with me about the relationship between women and their footwear, staying true to himself as a designer, as well as his inspirations for his latest collection.
ELLE: What was the inspiration behind the SS’20 collection?
Gianvito Rossi: I wanted to relate my shoes to music — to an instrument, to the way music is expressed and the memories music imprints in each of our hearts. There are a few ways music is incorporated in the collection. I love the shape of the guitar, which can be super feminine and I wanted to design a pump that is the perfect for a female guitarist. I also thought about a night at the club and the dazzling disco ball, and that translates to iridescent vinyl point toe sandals that changes colour from angle to angle, motion to motion like the moving lights glazing across the dance floors.
On the contrary, I’m also thinking towards a summer moment, warm and welcoming outdoors parties, the memory of the good soul and the happiness and freedom from the ’70s. On the other side, the new silhouette, the platforms in black and white are super dynamic and young. I interpreted that through platforms, in a way that empowers women and gives them the freedom of being feminine and confident at the same time. And I played with more natural colours and a softer texture.
They say shoes are the windows to a woman’s soul. What can you tell about a woman from her shoes?
I think one cannot really define a person from the shoes she wears. You can get an idea of what the mood or the feeling she is having now. You can be wearing a pair of sneakers now and a pair of stilettos later — they are of a complete different attitude, based on the mood you are in at that moment. I think that fashion today allows women to be who they want to be, based on what they are feeling.
The world moves forward at such a great pace nowadays. What’s new today becomes old tomorrow. How do you, as a master of your crafts, stay fulfilled and inspired?
I have my guidelines. And I like to build them one step after the other as an evolution of my design – and that keeps me consistent. When I make shoes, I want to think of it as the next step of a history, not a different history. It’s very important in design and its creative process, because it is very easy to be tempted to follow new trends if you’re not rooted. This might destroy your history and your evolution in terms of design. You have to look, get inspired, be super dedicated and pay great attention to what’s happening, but also realise not everything is for you.
Shoes spark joy in people. What do you hope your shoes represent to the women of today?
I hope that it represents the feeling of being empowered, the feeling of being able to face their life, their days with confidence. Modern day women face a lot of challenges, from meetings to parties on a daily basis and there’s a need to feel confident when they are among other people. I hope my shoes can enable women to feel more confident, to face the days and everything that is happening, in a stronger way.
This story first appeared on our May 2020 issue. You can read the full issue here.